Humor by John Christmann

The Price Of Opportunity

Cubs logo over Wrigely Field vines

I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a World Series Ticket today.

We are hearing a lot about “long suffering” Cubs fans. Mainly because it’s been 71 years since the Cubs appeared in a World Series, and 108 years since they have won one. But the suffering comes not from the absence of wins. The suffering comes from watching nine innings ad nauseam year after year to never get there.

Let’s face it. Baseball games are boring enough. Losing makes them worse.

Beer makes them better.

I think the real “long suffering” Cubs fans are the ones who are dead now, having lived a lifetime without ever seeing the Cubs win a World Series. That is a whole lot of beer and long nine-inning losses.

And there are some fans, sadly, who have even gone a lifetime without even seeing the Cubs play in a World Series.

I am not one of them. That is, I am not dead yet. I have gone a lifetime and have finally seen the Cubs play in the World Series. I can even say I have watched them win a Series game.

A number of years ago I made a list of 50 things I wanted to experience in my life. It wasn’t really a bucket list because, to my mind, I am still too young to be thinking of buckets to kick. No, my list was comprised of a lot of improbable things that I had no control over, enabling me to seize opportunities that might or might not come my way.

Like saving someone’s life. That was number two or three. Miraculously, I achieved it, and it was immensely rewarding for more than just me.

I also achieved the first item on my list, which was to experience coming up with 50 things I want to experience in my life. I think it is important to start off on a positive note when there are 49 improbable events to follow.

Number 9 on my list was to attend a World Series game at Wrigley Field with my oldest friend who I grew up with in Chicago. At the time I wrote it, it was right up there with becoming a winning contestant on the Price is Right in the improbability column.

But now, some ten plus years later, Number 9 is staring me right in the face. I actually have the opportunity to attend a World Series game in Wrigley Field with my oldest friend.

Except for the fact that Wrigley Field is an expensive airline flight away and even low-visibility Standing Room Only ticket prices start at a gut wrenching $2,500 and we both have obligations at home which make it difficult to responsibly attend.

In this case the opportunity costs are very easily calculated: Stubhub tickets, airlines, hotels, transportation, hot dogs, beer, and many favors owed to our wives. Oh, and World Series T-shirts.

It’s a lot for both of us.

But it is the offsetting emotional value of being at Wrigley Field for a World Series game on a crisp October evening that is harder to quantify.

My oldest friend is a die hard Cubs fan, even after living most of his life on the East Coast far from the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Some years we made summer pilgrimages to Wrigley to spend a couple of nostalgic weekend afternoons watching the Cubs play in the warm sunshine, and then drinking too many beers in the fan-friendly bars in Wrigleyville around the park.

We have memories and T-shirts and bleacher ticket stubs to show for watching the Cubs lose. The memories are the most valuable.

One year my friend took his wife on a Cubs pilgrimage. She is not a Cubs fan. But she is a really good sport. They managed to get seats in the front row bleachers over center field.

Sometime during the game, maybe during the seventh inning stretch when a Harry Caray flame-keeper like Bill Murray was bleating “root root root for the Cubbies”, my friend’s wife impulsively reached over the ivy covered brick wall below her and ripped out a hunk of Wrigley Field vines.

Security guards immediately surrounded her ready to escort them out of the ball park, but an innocent smile from an unknowing tourist can sometimes forgive wrongful acts, even when her husband, who has guiltily removed his Cubs ball cap, is well aware of the consequences.

She delicately placed the vines clenched in her fist in a dampened wet napkin and eventually traveled home with them in a cup of water.

The back of their house is now overgrown with Wrigley Field ivy, just ready to claim ground rule doubles.

I received a cutting from my friend on a milestone birthday, shortly before the Cubs were thwarted from advancing to the playoffs by yet another curse. They are now taking over a retaining wall adjacent to my house. The other day I discovered a baseball lodged within the vibrant green tangle so I know they are real.

I keep my vines away from the house because, well, I know how vines work. Even ones transplanted from Wrigley Field. They don’t quit. Ever.

Kind of like Cubs fans. They watch year after year and don’t quit. Ever.

And then finally, when the curse guards aren’t looking, they have an opportunity to crest the top of the wall without being cut back.

My stomach hurts. it seems likely that I must miss the chance to cross off Number 9 and to go to a World Series game in Wrigley Field with my best friend. That is, unless we miraculously win tickets on the Price is Right.

But it is OK, because together we will enjoy Wrigley Field vines, beer, and a flat screen TV in the friendly confines of home. More importantly, we still have a long time to live and, well, as Cubs fans like to say, there is always next year.

Go Cubs!